Security issues are a concern for most travelers. Physical safety gets the most attention — in the air, on the road, pick-pockets, hotel break-ins and all the rest.
That’s only half the story, though. While we’re off wandering round exotic cities or sipping cocktails beside the pool, what’s happening back home?
We recently had an issue while traveling that drove us to find a technology solution. Much of our furniture and artwork had been moved around various rooms in our condo while we were away.
While the building management does have the right to enter our apartment for routine maintenance and emergencies, they are supposed to keep detailed records of such visits. However, they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) identify who had been in our home, leaving us none the wiser.
I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
About that time, one of our travel mates became aware of an iOS and Android app that seemed like it might provide a solution. Cammy offers a cloud-based surveillance camera system that provides a live view of my home from my iPhone or iPad, anywhere I’ve got an Internet connection, and alerts me if there’s an intruder.
Their web site offers plenty of detail about how it works prior to purchase. The company is based in Australia, and currently ships there, the US and the UK, with plans to expand over time.
Cammy is a monitored service that incurs a monthly fee, currently about $30 per month. This isn’t inexpensive, but for as much as I travel, it is money well spent. Also, you need to get used to living with a video camera. You get what that means.
The company currently offers a plan where you can prepay $300 for the first year and get two free Cammy cameras. I went for this deal because I figured their cameras would be easy to set up and connect to the app, and so it turned out to be. The web site says other cameras will work, but I haven’t tried any yet.
Setup was actually easier than expected. I just plugged in the camera’s power cord and connected it to an Ethernet connection on my home router. Although this initial setup needed a network cable, the cameras can be put anywhere within Wi-fi range after that.
After connecting both devices, I downloaded the app from the Apple store. It found my cameras, asking me to set a password for each one. I also needed to input the password for my Wi-fi network, and that was it. It really was as easy as the instruction videos showed.
Alarms, Events and Alerts
The system has numerous options for alarms and alerts, all adjustable remotely from my iPhone. I use “auto arm” to turn everything on whenever my phone goes outside a certain area keyed to my address. The alarm settings permit more than one user whose device can trigger the auto-arm function.
The motion detection technology in Cammy’s cameras recognizes human movement, with several options for what happens when an intruder enters the camera’s view. Alerts can be sent by email (to a computer or mobile device) and by phone. I chose the siren alert for my iPhone and iPad.
The app recognizes when an alert is viewed – if that doesn’t happen within a specified number of minutes, an automated phone call is sent to any numbers you select. The options for responding to an alert are do nothing, call the police or disarm the alarm for a period of between 15 minutes to 24 hours (or indefinitely).
Unless the alarms are set to record only when armed, a video or still image of anyone passing the camera is recorded. Called “events”, these are stored on Cammy’s servers for thirty days.
If you need it longer, any video or image can be downloaded and saved on a hard drive or in a cloud application like Evernote. Remember, though, this needs to be done within the thirty days before Cammy deletes the event.
Live View Features
For me, the attraction of Cammy is having a live view any time, anywhere there’s Internet. Using Cammy’s alarms and alerts and live view, we are very confident that nobody has entered our home without our knowledge.
I even can adjust the camera’s live view right from my iPhone, via the camera’s pan and tilt functions. The camera can pivot 300 degrees horizontally and 120 degrees vertically, even has a microphone and speaker for remote communication.
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Some Needed Upgrades
So far, Cammy is a great addition to my tech travel tools, but it’s not perfect. Like most newer technology, there are a couple of minor things that could be improved.
On the app, the color scheme makes some functions difficult to see, when the white print gets lost in a light blue background. There’s no way of setting all events to be deleted — they need to be selected, and then deleted, one at a time. I’ve brought these to the company’s attention, and they’ve acknowledged the issues. No news on timing, though.
So That’s the Story
Anyone who travels a lot, whether for business or pleasure, should take a look at Cammy if they’re concerned about what’s going on at home. There are similar services out there, but I haven’t found one that has cloud monitoring combined with intrusion alerts.
Many Wi-fi cameras offer remote live view, but Cammy’s alerts remove the need to constantly check your device. The ease of setup and use, and the convenience of live views from anywhere with an Internet connection, make this a “must have” travel technology for me.
Images via Cammy